Google eyes fix after snafu on Holocaust denial

Google said Tuesday it was working to refine its algorithm to weed out "non-authoritative" information after a British news report showed a Holocaust denial website ranked highly in search queries.

The internet search giant issued a statement after a report last week by The Guardian showing the white supremacist site Stormfront as the top result when users asked "Did the Holocaust happen?" The site is operated by a group which says the genocide claiming the lives of more than six million Jews and others in World War II was a hoax.

Google, in a statement to AFP, said its aim is to provide "authoritative results" for search queries while offering "a breadth of diverse content from variety of sources." "Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don't always get it right," the statement said.

"When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one." Google added that recent tweaks to its algorithm "will help surface more high quality, credible content" and that the tech giant will "continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges." The Holocaust search glitch is just the latest in a series of issues for which Google has faced scrutiny for its search algorithms.

Last month, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai - responding to complaints about fake news related to the US election - said the company receives billions of queries daily and admitted errors had been made.

"There have been a couple of incidences where it has been pointed out and we didn't get it right.

"And so it is a learning moment for us and we will definitely work to fix it," he said in a BBC interview last month.

Pichai said there should be "no situation where fake news gets distributed" and committed to making improvements.

"I don't think we should debate it as much as work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources, have more fact checking and make our algorithms work better, absolutely," he said.

Google, which is world's leading search engine, and Facebook, where many people get news, have responded to criticism by pledging to cut off advertising revenues to hoax websites along with other steps to weed out misinformation.

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